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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

HISTORY   AS    A    BRANCH   OF    ^ITERATXJRE
some mistakes ;   but his mistakes were no greater than
those of other historians and there are not half-a-dozen
^histories in the English language which have been based
on so extensive a survey of original materials.

•To these preliminary points, which help to set,the
terms of our discussion, we may add the fact that
history—apart from certain strange breeds of it that
have emerged in recent times—is a thing which naturally
lends itself to discourse in continuous English. In a
purely conventional sense, therefore, it may be regarded
as a branch of literature, even when it is written by
students whosb intention is primarily scientific. The
mere possession of-a happy prose style or a neat way of
constructing paragraphs, however, will not necessarily
decide that a given historian belongs to the literary
school rather than the scientific* We may also note that
at certain periods the man of letters—writers like
Smollett, Southey or Scott—may turn to a kind of
historical compilation, just as modern poets have turned
on occasion to writing historical pot-boilers. Of such
people we may say, however, that it is not this side of
their work which really seems to have given them thek
place in literature.

On the other hand, it appears to be the case, particu-
larly in the nineteenth century^ that a number of writers
more self-consciously set out to establish the position of
history as literature, conceiving that the literary arts as
such had something to contribute to the study of the
past and the development of historical comprehension.
They not only wrote history on a considerable scale, but
they put the case for thek peculiar view of it in various

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